Nutter: 'Chatter In The Background' Won't Distract Him - New York News

Nutter: 'Chatter In The Background' Won't Distract Him

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PHILADELPHIA -

It was chaos in City Hall on Thursday as protesters shouted and screamed during Mayor Michael Nutter's budget address, forcing him to leave council chambers.

"You want a fair contract, and so do I. But a fair contract must balance the interests of both hard-working taxpayers and our dedicated city employees," Nutter could barely be heard saying at the podium over a torrent of screaming, whistles and other noise.

Most of the protestors are union workers upset with the fact they still do not have contracts with the city.

Nutter was forced to end his address. He was able to continue in a private conference room where protestors were not allowed, but only one council member attended.

Some of the key points from the mayor's budget address were: a small reduction to the city wage tax; an effort to modernize library branches and expand library hours; $1 million more to the Community College of Philadelphia to help off-set rising tuition costs; and work to improve firehouses across the city.

After Thursday's spectacle, however, most of the conversation has been about the contracts.

AFSCME District Council 33 put out a statement that read: "Our position all along is that Mayor Nutter has not negotiated fairly with the unions. We are looking for a fair contract, not what the Mayor dictates."

Nutter joined "Good Day" on Friday morning to talk about it all.

During the 9-and-a-half-minute interview, a somewhat hoarse Nutter said he was an invited guest to council chambers, so the events were under the control and jurisdiction of council. He added that the union employees "have a right to express themselves," he understands they're upset, and he reiterated that he wants them to have a contract.

"I think yesterday was just, you know, unfortunate," the mayor said, in summary.

Asked about how it all made him feel – including being called a liar and signs that portrayed him as Bozo the Clown, Nutter said, "You know, I've been around for a long time so, you know, people do what they do. I know what I'm about. I'm pretty secure within myself. So, no, it actually has no effect whatsoever. I'm focused on trying to get our unions under multi-year contracts with raises and certain reforms in pension and how we calculate overtime, how we manage our workforce… . I'm not getting distracted by a lot of the chatter in the background."

The mayor also responded to the union protest by saying, "We have been at negotiating table for off and on for about four years. So, I'm more than willing to negotiate a fair contract. The challenge here is, what you're not seeing in that statement, is the fact that the unions have said, specifically DC 33, 'We don't want to talk about anything other than give us more money in raises, give us more money for health and welfare, and we don't want to talk about anything else.' That's not negotiating at all. And what they have said is no to everything else. So, I'm not going to get in back and forth. That's just a fact. That is what it is. That is what is going on. We are trying to get a resolution, and they are trying to maintain the status quo."

Contractors for police and firefighters are handled through arbitration and are in a different process. The arbitrator made an award, but the city has appealed it because, in Nutter's words, "We can't afford it," adding that it would cost $200-million-plus over the city's five-year plan.

Nutter said, "We've analyzed that award. It is tremendously costly and does not address issues related to reducing health care costs and some of the other issues that are critical to us."

During the interview, the mayor also said he hasn't decided yet whether he will veto the earned sick day bill that council passed earlier on Thursday.

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